The first hour of your day

AJ: I recently read this article that fascinated me. The article is entitled “What Successful People Do With the First Hour of Their Work Day” and details what some hugely successful executives do to ensure they start on the right foot. I have my own system for staying on top of my day long before the day actually begins and it starts the Friday of the prior week. Each Friday morning I plan out my schedule for the following week. I work in a meeting-heavy company, so the bulk of my time is pre-negotiated but going through everything on Friday means that on Monday I’m not already double-booked before I’ve even made it to my first commitment. It also means that I start each day fresh. No unread emails, no unaccounted for meeting invites, no surprises. Who wants to be surprised first thing in the morning?!

KJ: I do the same thing with my “to-do” list. Despite the e-mails, post-it notes, and task management system we have at work, one of the things that helps me the most is just planning out a list of items I need to accomplish the upcoming week. Some items ultimately get carried over to the subsequent week while new items get added, but it seems to be a good system that works to handle each of the important items in a week.

Here are three of our tips for a successful workday:

Make a schedule and stick to it
AJ: Don’t show up at a different time every single day. You aren’t really all that reliable an employee at this rate, nor are you allowing yourself the opportunity to optimize your time. I’m in love with the 7 am hour at my job. It’s the only hour of the day where no one talks to me, where I can actually sit at my desk for an entire hour and when I can think most clearly (after I’ve made a pot of coffee). Without my 7 am hour I’m all over the place. I’m disorganized, I’m running behind and I’m not ever at my desk for the rest of the day, which makes for a challenging day the next day as well. For some people maybe this time of day is in the 5:00 p.m. hour, so just find what works best for you!

Distinguish between being overworked and doing your job well
For the sake of your own sanity, know what feels like your breaking point and thoughtfully pre-plan to avoid it. My primary commitment is to my husband and our three fuzz balls. That means leaving the office by 6 pm almost every day which also means I have to get to work earlier in order to do my job completely while I’m there. Spending multiple nights at the office after 6 pm makes me feel overworked even if I’ve really worked the same number of hours.

Make your work life as comfortable as possible
I rarely take a legitimate lunch. Mostly I eat things at my desk that I consider lunch but usually lack protein. If you’re always on the go during the day, then bring yourself enough snacks to get through. I’m a big fan of apples at my desk. I can eat them in under 3 minutes, they’re filling, they don’t require the microwave or the fridge and I sometimes feel kind of healthy when I eat them. Many people I work with keep candy at their desk for their afternoon pick me up but I just don’t have the self control to manage that safely.

I love hearing tips about how other people set themselves up for a successful day at work. I don’t often take 10 minutes to reflect upon all of the things I’m thankful for – as Tony Robbins is referenced as doing in the article – but I find encouragement in preparedness and always knowing what’s coming my way. Check your calendar the night before, pre-plan your attire, know in advance when you have time to actually do your job (not in meetings, not on conference calls, not on the phone).

    So tell us, what is it you do to ensure you stay successful?
    What could you be doing better?
    Tell us how you make it all work.

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4 thoughts on “The first hour of your day

  1. Huh…email is usually my first agenda…am just itching in the morning to see what happened overnight and going by that list, I might have my priorities up-side down!
    Most of the times I work out a to-do list the evening before of things that didn’t get finished on that day and that are priority the next day.
    Maybe I can adopt a more spiritual start to my day…relaxing meditation and light exercise!

    • Yeah, e-mail can work well for me as the start of creating the list of my highest priority items, but a lot of what I need to accomplish is a take-away from meetings, so I don’t always have e-mail as a good reference. A more spiritual start to the day does sound like a great way to start each day fresh!

  2. I have a top 5 list each day of things that have to be done. At the end of the day I take 5 minutes and reflect on these top 5 for the following day. It seems my to do list is always longer than what I can accomplish. This helps me prioritize my time and ensure the essentials are being completed.

    • Thanks for sharing! Making a list of the highest priority items is the best way to make sure you don’t get lost in the shuffle of all of the little things too!

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